The market hall opened in 1967 and often feels like an unloved part of the city, with shopping habits changing and the rise of the internet.. the current management have welcomed in local artist Nikki Pinder and a collective of students to brighten up the walls with some original artworks and hopefully drive footfall and create a better ambiance. I spoke to Nikki recently:
“I was contacted by you on the street, mentioned that I enjoy doing murals and asked if you could put me forward to (market manager) Karen to work on the walls in the market. I’m doing a visual impression of Chester from my experiences, I was given a brief of using the Chester landmarks as a reference point, I developed my ideas into a Chester which is all hobnailed and strung together, crooked and old.. so many different buildings, different eras, different ages… I got the idea of the old buildings having old roots that have been growing for centuries, and new buildings with smaller roots that are changing and growing with the city, quite creature like.. I’m trying to emphasise the vibe of the city as well, because its fun, lots of atmosphere, lot of things going on every single day, also with the musical emphasis, how theres a lot of musicians , people getting involved on the streets as well”
Nikki’s mural , currently in progress is a representation of the Eastgate clock and other Chester icons and can be seen on the entrance wall near the sweet shop and fishmongers.
“I want to do the project, partly because I have always been to the market. I’ve always been visiting ever since I was a little kid, its got a lovely atmosphere, its quite unnoticed at the moment, over the last ten years, not as many people seem to come in.. so I thought by doing a mural it might draw the attention of all different people , younger people will come in.. and also theres the Lego work which has already gained a lot of attention for the market.. its things like that that will get a new range of people coming in hopefully”
Another wall at the rear of the market has been given to some students from Chester Uni. They are all 2nd year students on a mix of courses, fine art, photography and graphic design
Nikki explained : “Karen has given them the opportunity to get involved and explore their ideas in a professional way, be creative in a way that you wouldn’t usually get at university.. its a university work experience project. For my part I was asked to speak to them and give them a bit of guidance. Tell them what materials they can use, and give them a bit of encouragement in developing their own ideas”
Student Adam Jones explained to me with that his two pieces , he wanted to show an “historic but present reality .. the black and white style is to emulate the Tudor veins that run through the heart of the city” He expressed some frustration with the timescale and creative tensions within the group, the other students involved being Jess brown, Tayff Ullah, Rebecca Higginbottom, Demi Williams and Jess Whitley-Baylee. All of the artists involved tried to evoke a sense of Chester’s rich history and show what makes the city special.
Becky Higginbottom said: “as a group we wanted for the focus of our pieces to be Chester and its heritage. During this process I became infatuated with some of the small architectural designs around Chester…I chose to look at some of the patterns on the Tudor buildings and create some two three dimensional reliefs” (shown above)
Jess Whitley-Baylee’s colourful effort was also designed with heritage in mind. She “looked at how rooted Chester’s past is , I looked at ways in whichI could symbolise this , I came up with the idea to have a typical Tudor style building with tree roots coming out of the bottom, the building and roots are coloured using the colours of the Chester coat of arms”
The students work is now on display, Nikki is working towards completing her mural. With markets facing challenging times @ShitChester champions anything that tries to drive footfall and engage the institutions with the local community. I encourage followers to go and have a look , not forgetting to check out the ongoing Lego display.
With thanks to market manager Karen Bates, Adam Jones and Nikki Pinder